Shiffrin dominant in Are slalom
Are, Sweden – USA's Mikaela Shiffrin extended her lead from the first run to claim her third consecutive slalom win of the season on Saturday.
The slalom world champion, who turned 20 on Friday, skied flawlessly on the course set by her coach in the first leg and clocked the fastest time in the second run as well after an impressive bottom section. She finished in a combined time of 1:44.56 and was trailed by Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulova (+1.41) who was third after the first run. Rounding out the podium was Czech Republic's Sarka Strachova (+2.15).
Shiffrin almost lost half of her lead in the top part of the course but she made it all back up and increased it significantly on the bottom to finally comfortably earn her 14th career World Cup victory.
“It felt like my second run was good but sometimes I can hear the announcers when I'm skiing and I thought I was behind,” explained Shiffrin right after the race. “So I told myself go faster, go faster.”
“Sometimes my nerves are worse when I have a big lead, because I feel like something has to go wrong. There was a little bit of adrenaline in my legs and I think that helped me today.”
With the win, Shiffrin gets closer to her big goal of retaining the crystal globe in slalom, a trophy she won in each of the previous two seasons. She could become the first woman to win the world title as well as the World Cup title in the slalom in the same season twice. Her only remaining challenger in the discipline, Frida Hansdotter, one of the home crowd's favourites, had to be content with 6th place (+2.54) and will have to overcome a 90 point disadvantage in the final race at the World Cup finals next week to claim the title.This means the 29-year-old Swede has no other option but to win the final slalom race and implies that Shiffrin doesn't finish in the top-15.
Veronika Velez Zuzulova confirmed her fine form after a difficult start to the season. Today's result was her second successive runner-up spot as she was already second in Maribor three weeks ago.
“I have never made two podiums in a row like this,” commented Velez Zuzulova. “It was always with some breaks in-between. For sure I am very happy because I had a really tough start to the season with knee problems. The confidence is coming back and I can enjoy every race now.”
Sarka Strachova, who earned bronze at the World Championships, landed her third podium this campaign."Confidence is back for me as well," she said. "I am not really nervous any more before the races and I am having a lot of fun."
Slovenia's Tina Maze had a chance to score precious points in the tight battle for the overall as Fenninger wasn't racing on the day. The 31-year-old however struggled to find speed and finished 16th, 3.29 seconds off the pace, which didn't enable her to reclaim the lead. She now trails Fenninger by 30 points in the overall standings.
This wraps up the final week of racing before the World Cup Finals in Méribel. The action start on Monday already with the first downhill training.
Here are the complete results.